white tractor-trailer

Breakdown: Car Accidents vs. Trucking Accidents

Car accidents happen every day. Ranging from fender benders to head-on collisions, car accidents can result in injury and even death; however, most passengers come away unscathed. Truck accidents, on the other hand, are much more dangerous. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatality rate in large truck crashes is almost four times higher than the fatality rate in crashes involving only passenger vehicles.

Concerning Statistics

In 2020, crash data reported by the North Carolina Department of Transportation revealed that almost 400,000 passenger vehicles were involved in accidents, with only .5 percent of vehicles being involved in fatal crashes. The number of trucks in accidents, on the other hand, reached over 10,000, with the percentage of trucks involved in deadly wrecks amounting to 1.22 percent.

Differing Causes

Car accidents and trucking accidents can share many similarities in terms of cause. There are, however, some key ways in which car accidents and trucking accidents differ.

Car Accidents

Though there are many different causes of car wrecks, most can be grouped into one of three categories: driver error, mechanical failure, or environmental factors.

  • Driver Error: One of the most common causes of car accidents, driver errors include things like distracted driving, speeding, and DUI.
  • Environmental Factors: Inclement weather or poor road conditions can also lead to accidents, especially for smaller vehicles.
  • Mechanical Failure: While less common, mechanical failure can still be a significant contributing factor to accidents. Common examples include tire blowouts and brake failures.

Trucking Accidents

In the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), causes of trucking collisions were found to include slightly different causes than those apparent in passenger car accidents. These causes include mechanical failure, new routes and driver fatigue.

  • Mechanical Defects: Also common in passenger car accidents, mechanical failure appears in trucking accidents, primarily regarding tires. This can be due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicle. Brakes can also be heavily affected.
  • New Routes: When truckers get a new route, they may miss turns, make wrong turns, or be altogether unfamiliar with the roadways. They are more likely to make mistakes that can put themselves and other motorists at risk.
  • Driver Fatigue: A commonly raised concern and cause of trucking accidents is tired driving. Fatigue can cause a driver to have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and trouble maintaining focus, leading to severe accidents.

Types of Injuries

One of the main ways car accidents and trucking accidents can differ is in the potential injuries. While severe injury and death can result from a car accident, passenger car occupants tend to be more likely to come away with less threatening injuries than those in a trucking accident.

Car Accidents

Many different types of injuries can occur in car accidents. Some of the most common include whiplash, concussions, and broken bones.

  • Whiplash - This is a neck injury that occurs when the head is suddenly jerked forward or backward.
  • Concussions - These head injuries happen when the skull hits something hard or when it is shaken forcefully. They can cause dizziness, confusion, and headache.
  • Broken bones -Broken bones can occur when there is a direct impact or when the body is thrown around forcefully. Fractures, dislocations, and sprains are all common injuries that can occur in car accidents.

Trucking Accidents

Due to size and weight, trucks have the frightening potential to cause significant damage when involved in an accident, especially if it is carrying dangerous cargo.

  • Spinal Cord Injuries - Common in trucking crashes, these injuries can be catastrophic and cause paralysis, which can have a devastating impact on the victim’s quality of life. In some cases, victims may never be able to walk again.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TB) - While a concussion is a type of TBI, trucking crashes can produce more severe forms of the injury, and can also cause brain hemorrhages.
  • Burns -Burn injuries are common in trucking collisions. The truck’s fuel tank can rupture and cause severe burns, often over a large portion of the body. In addition, if the truck is carrying hazardous materials, the resulting fire can cause even more extensive burns.

A Look Ahead

Over the past decade, the trucking industry has been under increased scrutiny due to the high number of accidents involving large commercial vehicles. In response to this, various rules and regulations have been put in place to reduce the number of accidents and improve safety on the roads.

Some of these regulations include hours of service rules that limit the amount of time a driver can be behind the wheel and mandatory rest breaks. There are also stricter requirements for load securement, and trucks are equipped with electronic logging devices that track the hours a driver is behind the wheel.

Wilmington Trucking Accident Attorneys

At Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP, our trucking accident attorneys have extensive experience handling tractor-trailer accidents. We understand the complex regulations governing the trucking industry and know how to navigate the legal system effectively. Our goal is to help our clients receive their deserved justice and compensation.

For a free initial consultation, contact us today at (866) 380-2281 or complete a form online!


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